Rogers hot shots

The brainchild of John Munro, VP marketing for Toronto-based Rogers Cable, July's Hot Shots commercial competition saw 321 amateur filmmakers submit scripts for a chance to create a TV spot advertising Rogers Yahoo! Hi-Speed Internet service. It was about putting consumers in control, says Munro. After a shortlist was named by a panel of judges, which also chose the first winning commercial, consumers were then invited to vote online for a second spot they would like to see air. This month Toronto-based Karen Howe, CD, Due North Communications, and Leslie McCallum, president of Toronto shop Bright Red, break it down.

The brainchild of John Munro, VP marketing for Toronto-based Rogers Cable, July’s Hot Shots commercial competition saw 321 amateur filmmakers submit scripts for a chance to create a TV spot advertising Rogers Yahoo! Hi-Speed Internet service. It was about putting consumers in control, says Munro. After a shortlist was named by a panel of judges, which also chose the first winning commercial, consumers were then invited to vote online for a second spot they would like to see air. This month Toronto-based Karen Howe, CD, Due North Communications, and Leslie McCallum, president of Toronto shop Bright Red, break it down.

THE CONCEPT

Munro says the reason for this unusual marketing approach is that it reflects Rogers’ positioning for the new Internet service. ‘Our brand essence is ‘what you want when you want it,” he says. ‘We’re giving control back to the consumer. A direct result of living the brand is to [allow] consumers to express themselves.’

KH: It’s a really refreshing idea to involve the consumer because they’re very jaded. To actually say to people, ‘Here’s your chance to do what you want to do and interpret this brand,’ was a really interesting idea. Kudos to them.

LM: It’s a brilliant strategy because you’ve now got the people who are going to vote captive in an uncluttered environment. They look through nine commercials and you’ve now exposed them to nine different angles for Rogers.

THE CONTEST

Toronto film producer Chocolate Box Entertainment pared the scripts down to 20. These were then handed to a panel of judges consisting of reps from MacLaren McCann, Yahoo!, Rogers Cable and acclaimed Canadian film directors Bruce McDonald and Lynne Stopkewich. Nine winners were each given $25,000 (including $4,500 in prize money) and 15 days to create the spots. The contest was promoted on Rogers.com,

Rogers-owned radio stations, Rogers TV, the TV Guide channel and through a grassroots campaign geared at hundreds of arts programs at colleges and universities across Canada, as well as through mailing lists such as the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto.

KH: That seemed like a really great and fair process because all the constituencies have a stake in it.

LM: They went to the right places given what they wanted to do. Do I think it links back to a product benefit? No. They didn’t have to hire up-and-coming film people to deliver the objective of ‘giving customers what they want when they want it.’

THE WEB SITE

Visitors could vote for the second spot at www.rogers.com/hotshots until Aug. 31. Curiously, the first spot, ‘Old Men,’ did not inform consumers of the opportunity to vote.

KH: I’m a Rogers subscriber, have a Rogers cellphone and their Internet access. As one of their consumers who could be convinced to buy more, I don’t feel that they reached me. The reason I was aware of this is because I’m in the industry and I read the trade papers. But it flew below the radar screen.

LM: The integration is questionable. I actually put in ‘Hot Shots contest’ in the Rogers search engine and it said ‘no match available.’

OBJECTIVE & RESULTS

Munro says the campaign was not intended to function as a customer acquisition tool. He says the goal was to ‘let consumers live our brand. The more people feel the brand and like it, the more people are going to sign up for any one of our products.’

KH: In ‘Old Men,’ they use the one fellow as a metaphor for a higher speed Internet, but I don’t walk away with any understanding of why Yahoo! provides that additional speed.

LM: I don’t really believe that if you look at nine spots and click on one of them that you actually have control of what you want when you want it.

THE SPOT

Brad Horvath and Erin MacMillan’s ‘Old Men’ features two elderly men in a nursing home racing each other in motorized scooters for a slice of cherry pie. ‘Old Men’ began airing Aug. 6. The second spot is to air some time in the fall.

KH: I don’t think the spot itself is that fresh – using [a person] as a visual metaphor for a product benefit. The concept of someone creating the spot was bigger and fresher than the spot itself.

LM: In terms of delivering the strategy I thought it was great. It was very clever and engaging and linked back to the product benefits. The visual representation of getting there quicker was very clever. And it’s completely entertaining.